The upcoming expansion of a key transportation corridor just west of the nation’s capital will be a boon for businesses, tourism operators and developers in the Ottawa Valley, an economic development official says.
Earlier this week, the province said it is moving ahead with the first stage of widening Highway 17 from two to four lanes between Arnprior and Renfrew. The twinning of the 22.5-kilometre stretch of highway also involves construction of four new interchanges.
Alastair Baird, the manager of economic development at the County of Renfrew, called the project “very significant” and said it would improve access to and from the Ottawa Valley.
“(Highway 17) enables many of our residents to get to work in the Ottawa area. Their commute will get faster and safer,” he said.
However, Baird noted that commuter traffic along Highway 17 flows both ways. Some employees working at the county’s largest employers, such as Chalk River Laboratories, live in Ottawa. And many Ottawa residents regularly travel to Renfrew County to ski, camp and spend time at cottages, he added.
The first step of the project is the construction of a new interchange at the Calabogie Road intersection in McNab/Braeside. The province is currently requesting expressions of interest from contractors as part of the procurement process.
The second stage will include three new interchanges and widening Highway 17 from two lanes to four from Scheel Drive in McNab/Braeside to just west of Bruce Street in Horton.
Highway 17/417 is the longest provincial highway in Ontario, running more than 1,900 kilometres from the Quebec border in eastern Ontario to Manitoba, according to the Ministry of Transportation.